“Halloween is a holiday celebrated each year on October 31, and Halloween 2022 will occur on Monday, October 31. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.” [From History.com. To read more, click on the link below]
Halloween is said to be the second largest commercial holiday in the United States. What’s first? Only Christmas. According to History.com, Americans spend an estimated $6 billion annually on Halloween. But, did you know? The United States is not the only place where Halloween, or something like it, is celebrated.
To read more about the history of Halloween and how it is typically celebrated in the United States, click HERE
To read more about how other countries celebrate Halloween, or practice similar customs, click HERE.
American poet and educator, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), wrote many poems that went on to become quite well known. My favorite is "Three Kings" which tells the Bible story of King Herod's search for the King, the one prophesied about in the Old Testament, the one who would become known as Jesus. Of course, we do not know how many "wise men" or kings there actually were who came seeking the Child. People often associate the number "three" with this story because there were three gifts mentioned in the Scriptures: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. In any case, Longfellow accurately and beautifully captures the hatred directed toward the would-be King and the way in which He would be protected.
Here's a funny Thanksgiving story and a few poems for your reading pleasure. Hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends.
Grandma was showing the children a painting of the Pilgrim Family on a Thanksgiving Day card that they had received and she commented, 'The Pilgrim children enjoyed going to church with their mothers and fathers and praying to God.' Her youngest grandson looked at her doubtfully and asked, 'Then why is their Dad carrying that rifle?'
Ode to Thanksgiving!
May your stuffing be tasty
May your turkey plump,
May your potatoes and gravy
Have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious
And your pies take the prize,
And may your Thanksgiving dinner
Stay off your thighs!
Tell me, Mr. Turkey,
Don't you feel afraid
When you hear us talking
'Bout the plans we've made?
Can't you hear us telling
How we're going to eat
Cranberries and stuffing
With our turkey meat?
Turkey, heed my warning:
Better fly away;
Or you will be sorry
On Thanksgiving day.
The following is taken from www.plimoth.org
Thanksgiving is a particularly American holiday. The word evokes images of football, family reunions, roasted turkey with stuffing, pumpkin pie and, of course, the Pilgrims and Wampanoag, the acknowledged founders of the feast. But was it always so? Read on to find out...
This article explores the development of our modern holiday. For information on food at the First Thanksgiving, go to Partakers of our Plenty. For additional children's resources on Thanksgiving, you might want to view Scholastic's Virtual Field Trip to Plimoth Plantation, explore our Online Learning Center, or visit our Homework Help page. If you'd like to join us for Thanksgiving dinner, please visit our Thanksgiving Dining and Special Events page.
Giving thanks for the Creator’s gifts had always been a part of Wampanoag daily life. From ancient times, Native People of North America have held ceremonies to give thanks for successful harvests, for the hope of a good growing season in the early spring, and for other good fortune such as the birth of a child. Giving thanks was, and still is, the primary reason for ceremonies or celebrations.
As with Native traditions in America, celebrations - complete with merrymaking and feasting - in England and throughout Europe after a successful crop are as ancient as the harvest-time itself. In 1621, when their labors were rewarded with a bountiful harvest after a year of sickness and scarcity, the Pilgrims gave thanks to God and celebrated His bounty in the Harvest Home tradition with feasting and sport (recreation). To these people of strong Christian faith, this was not merely a revel; it was also a joyous outpouring of gratitude.
To read more about the history of Thanksgiving, click HERE!
Groundhog Day is a popular tradition in the United States as well in Canada. Every year early in the morning on February 2nd, millions of people turn on their TV's to watch a groundhog named Phil come out of hibernation. But why? What is so special about this groundhog and what's the deal with Groundhog Day?
The celebration we know today goes back to 1887, when some groundhog hunters suggested that they had a groundhog, whom they called Phil, that could correctly predict the weather. Soon after, a ceremony was born. But the tradition of Groundhog Day actually goes further back. The idea comes from the Pennsylvania Dutch, Germans who emigrated to the US during the 17th and 18th centuries. They believed in a superstition which taught that "if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, it gets scared and runs back into its burrow, predicting six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring."
According to History.com the day also has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter.
In 1993, the movie Groundhog Day, which starred Bill Murray, helped to boost the popularity of this day. Now, the city of Woodstock, IL has its own celebration, and its own prognosticating groundhog named Willie. Why a celebration in Woodstock? Well, because back in 1992, the small town of Woodstock was transformed into Punxutawney, PA for the filming of the movie Groundhog Day. The fictional story about a TV weatherman named Phil who is forced to relive the events that take place on particular Groundhog Day many times over, is set in Punxutawney, PA. But for whatever reason, the producers decided to film the movie in Woodstock. So now, every year, Woodstock offers many groundhog activities throughout the day of February 2nd.
To read more about the Groundhog Day festivities in Woodstock, click here.
To learn more about groundhogs and the special occasion of Groundhog day, click here.
Whether you celebrate Christmas or you observe a different tradition at this time of year, you might find it interesting to learn more about the traditions of Christmas and the popular terms that are used.
Kenneth Beare writes:
"Christmas is one of the most important holidays in the English speaking world. There are many Christmas traditions in these countries. The traditions are both religious and secular in nature. Here is a short guide to the most common Christmas traditions.
WHAT DOES THE WORD 'CHRISTMAS' MEAN?
The word Christmas is taken from 'Christ's Mass' or, in the original Latin, Cristes maesse. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on this day."
To read more about the tradition of Christmas, click here
To practice identifying Christmas vocabulary or to play some fun games that will test your knowledge and understanding of Christmas traditions, click here
The story that follows comes from the Reader's Digest website.
When Mrs. Klein told her first graders to draw a picture of something for which they were thankful, she thought how little these children, who lived in a deteriorating neighborhood, actually had to be thankful for. She knew that most of the class would draw pictures of turkeys or of bountifully laden Thanksgiving tables. That was what they believed was expected of them.
What took Mrs. Klein aback was Douglas’s picture. Douglas was so forlorn and likely to be found close in her shadow as they went outside for recess. Douglas’s drawing was simply this:
A hand, obviously, but whose hand? The class was captivated by his image. “I think it must be the hand of God that brings us food,” said one student.
“A farmer,” said another, “because they grow the turkeys.”
“It looks more like a policeman, and they protect us.”
“I think,” said Lavinia, who was always so serious, “that it is supposed to be all the hands that help us, but Douglas could only draw one of them.”
Mrs. Klein had almost forgotten Douglas in her pleasure at finding the class so responsive. When she had the others at work on another project, she bent over his desk and asked whose hand it was.
Douglas mumbled, “It’s yours, Teacher.”
Then Mrs. Klein recalled that she had taken Douglas by the hand from time to time; she often did that with the children. But that it should have meant so much to Douglas …
Perhaps, she reflected, this was her Thanksgiving, and everybody’s Thanksgiving—not the material things given unto us, but the small ways that we give something to others.
To read more true stories like this, go to Reader's Digest.com
My name is Craig, and I've been teaching English for many years. I initially created this site for my students, but all English learners are welcome. I hope you find something helpful to you. Feel free to leave suggestions or ideas in the Comments section under any entry.